Day 1: Molas Pass to Bolam Hut via Rolling Mountain section of the Colorado Trail
5:30 am: Rally Drew and Lucy from the Holiday Inn Express for our last hot shower and non-self-cooked breakfast.
7 am: Meet up downtown Moab with the crew. We hired Red Rock Shuttle to take us and our bikes to the drop off spot.
|Fresh and full of nerves at Molas Pass Colorado Trail trailhead. L to R Kenny, Heather, Karl, Sally, Lucy, Drew.|
12:30 pm begin riding.
12:31 end of tracking the time and beginning of adventure
We opted for the singletrack option on day 1. The standard route took mostly gravel or dirt U.S. Forest Service roads, which are much, much faster and easier. The singletrack option promised 22 miles, 3750 feet of climbing, amazing scenery, and what every mountain biker lives for - skinny mountain singletrack. Even with our late start, we decided the high-elevation singletrack would be worth it. I'll let you see from the pictures, it was!
|Shoulder-high wildflowers for miles|
|Above tree line. Lots of water everywhere as this was only a few weeks after the trail opened from snowpack.|
Not without issue
Day 1 scenery was unsurpassed. Day 1 accidents, mechanicals, and weather were also unsurpassed.
|Karl tumbled 40 feet down the mountainside partially connected to his bike. Incredibly, he brushed himself off and rode on with only small abrasions on his arm and bike to show for his brush with a trip-ending tumble.|
|Getting back to the trail. The rocks in the foreground were the culprit.|
|The first of Karl's three flat tires. Miraculously, these three were the only flats of the entire trip. That's nearly 1400 combined miles on rocky trail and rural gravel roads with three flats. Hooray for tubeless.|
And there was that bit of hail and thunder. My fingers were too cold and my courage too diminished to take the time to snap a picture of the intense 15 minutes of hail and hour of thunder and rain that we waited out and then rode in, respectively. It would be the coldest I would be on the trip, and the episode put the fear of the monsoon season into all of us.
But by late afternoon, the rain mostly stopped and we continued to climb over the high peaks of the San Juan Mountains through fields of wildflowers, ...
past active groundwater features, ...
|A big spring gushing from the rocks under that snowbank. There were also karst features and smaller springs on bedding planes.|
in marmot territory,...
|Two big fat marmots, center, warned us to pass on by with their squeaks.|
and around herds of sheep.
The trail went on forever.
|Still snow on July 22|
We crested the last pass, still with a long way to go, but it was through another unbelievably beautiful basin.
|Skinny singletrack of the Rolling Mountain portion of the Colorado Trail|
|There was a fair share of hike a bike|
The scenery went on for days.
Destination Bolam HutFinally, with dark closing in, after 7 hours on the trail having stopped only for storms, catching breath, retrieving people off mountainsides, and flat tires, we arrived at Bolam Hut at 7:30 pm. We had spent the entire day between 10,900 feet and 12,500 feet elevation, alternately riding and pushing our bikes up and down 3750 feet of vertical through some of the best scenery I've ever seen. Click here to see a 3-D satellite motion graphic of Drew's GPS track for the day. It's really cool.
The hut was a very welcome site. Kenny quickly started a fire to dry us out and Karl started a pot of super-oregano pasta and creamy mushroom soup (the kind I don't eat anymore due to partially hydrogenated oils but gladly chowed this night). The only thing that could have made this day more epic was a cooler full of microbrews at the hut, and there it was!